American Airlines

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American Airlines, Inc.
American Airlines logo 2013.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
AA [1] AAL [1] AMERICAN [2]
FoundedJune 25, 1936(84 years ago) (1936-06-25) [3]
AOC # AALA025A [4]
Frequent-flyer program AAdvantage
Alliance Oneworld
Fleet size 861 (mainline) [5]
Destinations 350 [6]
Parent company American Airlines Group
Traded as Nasdaq:  AAL
Headquarters Fort Worth, Texas, United States
Key people
Revenue See parent
Operating income See parent
Net income See parent
Total assets See parent
Total equity See parent
Employees133,700 (2020) [8]

American Airlines, Inc. (AA or AAL) is a major American airline headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, within the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex. It is the world's largest airline when measured by fleet size, scheduled passengers carried, and revenue passenger mile. American, together with its regional partners, operates an extensive international and domestic network with almost 6,800 flights per day to nearly 350 destinations in more than 50 countries. [9] American Airlines is a founding member of the Oneworld alliance, the third-largest airline alliance in the world. Regional service is operated by independent and subsidiary carriers under the brand name American Eagle. [10]


American Airlines and American Eagle operate out of 10 hubs, with Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) being its largest. The airline handles more than 200 million passengers annually with an average of more than 500,000 passengers daily. As of 2019, the company employs nearly 130,000 people. [11]

American Airlines operates its primary and the largest maintenance and repair operations (MRO) base in Tulsa in addition to the maintenance locations at its hubs.


An American Airlines Boeing 787-9 taking off from Sydney Airport in July 2018 N834AA taking off from Sydney Airport July 2018.jpg
An American Airlines Boeing 787-9 taking off from Sydney Airport in July 2018

American Airlines was started in 1930 via a union of more than eighty small airlines. [12]

The two organizations from which American Airlines was originated were Robertson Aircraft Corporation and Colonial Air Transport. The former was first created in Missouri in 1921, with both being merged in 1929 into holding company The Aviation Corporation. This, in turn, was made in 1930 into an operating company and rebranded as American Airways. In 1934, when new laws and attrition of mail contracts forced many airlines to reorganize, the corporation redid its routes into a connected system and was renamed American Airlines. Between 1970 and 2000, the company grew into being an international carrier, purchasing Trans World Airlines in 2001. [13]

American had a direct role in the development of the DC-3, which resulted from a marathon telephone call from American Airlines CEO C. R. Smith to Donald Douglas, when Smith persuaded a reluctant Douglas to design a sleeper aircraft based on the DC-2 to replace American's Curtiss Condor II biplanes. (The existing DC-2's cabin was 66 inches (1.7 m) wide, too narrow for side-by-side berths.) Douglas agreed to go ahead with development only after Smith informed him of American's intention to purchase 20 aircraft. The prototype DST (Douglas Sleeper Transport) first flew on December 17, 1935, (the 32nd anniversary of the Wright Brothers' flight at Kitty Hawk). Its cabin was 92 in (2.3 m) wide, and a version with 21 seats instead of the 14–16 sleeping berths of the DST was given the designation DC-3. There was no prototype DC-3; the first DC-3 built followed seven DSTs off the production line and was delivered to American Airlines. [14] American Airlines inaugurated passenger service on June 26, 1936, with simultaneous flights from Newark, New Jersey, and Chicago, Illinois. [15]

In 2011, due to a downturn in the airline industry, American Airlines' parent company AMR Corporation filed for bankruptcy protection. In 2013, American Airlines merged with US Airways but kept the American Airlines name, as it was the better-recognized brand internationally; the combination of the two airlines resulted in the creation of the largest airline in the United States, and ultimately the world. [16]

Destinations and hubs

Destination: Budapest, Hungary Destination- Budapest, Hungary.jpg
Destination: Budapest, Hungary


As of September 2020, American Airlines flies to 95 domestic destinations and 95 international destinations in 55 countries in five continents. [17]


American currently operates ten hubs. [18]

Alliance and codeshare agreements

American Airlines is a member of the Oneworld alliance and has codeshares with the following airlines: [29]


American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. American Airlines, N825AA, Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.jpg
American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER landing at London Heathrow Airport in 2013. Boeing 777-323(ER) American Airlines N718AN, LHR London, England (Heathrow Airport), United Kingdom PP1367675556.jpg
American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER landing at London Heathrow Airport in 2013.

As of February 2021, American Airlines operates the largest commercial fleet in the world, comprising 881 aircraft from both Boeing and Airbus, with additional 7 planned or on order. [5]

Over 80% of American's aircraft are narrow-bodies, mainly Airbus A320 series and the Boeing 737-800. It is the largest A320 series aircraft operator in the world, as well as the largest operator of the A319 and A321 variants. It is the fourth-largest operator of 737 family aircraft and second-largest operator of the 737-800 variant.

American's wide-body aircraft are Boeing airliners. It is the third-largest operator of the Boeing 787 series and the sixth-largest operator of the Boeing 777 series.

American Airlines exclusively ordered Boeing aircraft throughout the 2000s. [35] This strategy shifted on July 20, 2011, when American announced the largest combined aircraft order in history for 460 narrow-body jets including 260 aircraft from the Airbus A320 series. [36] Additional Airbus aircraft joined the fleet in 2013 upon merger with US Airways, which operated Airbus aircraft almost exclusively. [37]


American A321T First Class (11424575675).jpg
American A321T business class (11424746783).jpg
First and business class seats on an A321 Transcontinental (top and bottom, respectively)
Flagship First

Flagship First is American's international First Class product. It is offered only on the airline's Boeing 777-300ERs. The seats are fully lie-flat and offer direct aisle access in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone configuration. [38] As with the airline's other premium cabins, Flagship First offers wider food and beverage options, larger seats, and lounge access at certain airports. [39]

Flagship Business

Flagship Business is a premium cabin offered on all Boeing 777-200ERs, Boeing 777-300ERs, Boeing 787-8s, and Boeing 787-9s. All Flagship Business seats are fully lie-flat. [40]


American has dedicated 17 Airbus A321s (A321T) in its fleet for the specific use of flying transcontinental routes between New York JFK and Los Angeles, New York JFK and San Francisco, and Boston and Los Angeles. These aircraft offer two premium cabins, Flagship First and Flagship Business, which are unique among domestic mainline aircraft in American's fleet. Both cabins feature lie-flat seats; Flagship First also includes direct aisle access from each seat. [41]

Domestic First Class

First Class is offered on all domestic mainline aircraft, as well as regional aircraft with more than 50 seats. Seats range from 19–21 inches (48–53 cm) in width and have 37–42 inches (94–107 cm) of pitch. [40] Dining options include beverages, and alcohol on all flights, free snacks on flights over 900 miles (1,400 km), and with meals offered on flights 2,200 miles (3,500 km) or longer. [42]

Premium Economy

Premium Economy is American's economy plus product available on all widebody aircraft. The cabin debuted on the airline's Boeing 787-9s in late 2016 [43] and is also available on Boeing 777-200s and -300s, and Boeing 787-8s. Premium Economy seats are wider than seats in Main Cabin (American's economy cabin) and provide more amenities: Premium Economy customers get two free checked bags, priority boarding, and enhanced food and drink service including free alcohol. This product made American Airlines the first U.S. carrier to offer a four-cabin aircraft. [40]

Main Cabin Extra

American's economy plus product on narowbody aircraft is Main Cabin Extra. It is available on most of the mainline fleet and American Eagle regional aircraft with more than 50 seats. [40] Main Cabin Extra seats include greater pitch than is available in Main Cabin, along with free alcoholic beverages. [44] American retained Main Cabin Extra when the new Premium Economy product entered service in late 2016. [43]

Main Cabin

Main Cabin is American's economy product, and is found on all mainline and regional aircraft in its fleet. Seats range from 17–18.5 inches (43–47 cm) in width and have 30–32 inches (76–81 cm) of pitch. [40]

American Airlines marketed increased legroom in economy class as "More Room Throughout Coach", also referred to as "MRTC", starting in February 2000. Two rows of economy class seats were removed on domestic narrowbody aircraft, resulting in more than half of all economy seats having a pitch of 34 inches (86 cm) or more. [45] Amid financial losses, this scheme was discontinued in 2004. [46]

On some routes, American also offers Basic Economy, the airline's lowest main cabin fare. Basic Economy is located in the main cabin but comes with restrictions. These restrictions include waiting until check-in for a seat assignment, no upgrades or refunds, and boarding in the last group. [47] Originally Basic Economy passengers could only carry a personal item, but American later revised their Basic Economy policies to allow for a carry-on bag. [48]

In May 2017, American announced it would be adding more seats to some of its Boeing 737 MAX jetliners and reducing overall legroom in the basic economy class. The last three rows will lose 2 inches (5.1 cm), going from the current 31 inches (79 cm) to 29 inches (74 cm). The remainder of the economy cabin will have 30 inches (76 cm) of legroom. [49]

Reward programs


AAdvantage is the frequent flyer program for American Airlines. It was launched on May 1, 1981, and it remains the largest frequent flyer program with over 67 million members as of 2011. Miles accumulated in the program allow members to redeem tickets, upgrade service class, or obtain free or discounted car rentals, hotel stays, merchandise, or other products and services through partners. The most active members, based on the amount and price of travel booked, are designated AAdvantage Gold, AAdvantage Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum Pro, and AAdvantage Executive Platinum elite members, with privileges such as separate check-in, priority upgrade, and standby processing, or free upgrades. They also receive similar privileges from AA's partner airlines, particularly those in oneworld. [50] [ better source needed ]

AAdvantage co-branded credit cards are also available and offer other benefits. The cards are issued by CitiCards, a subsidiary of Citigroup, and Barclaycard in the United States, by Butterfield Bank and Scotiabank in the Caribbean, and by Banco Santander in Brazil.[ citation needed ]

AAdvantage allows one-way redemption, starting at 7,500 miles. [51]

Admirals Club

The Admirals Club was conceived by AA president C.R. Smith as a marketing promotion shortly after he was made an honorary Texas Ranger. Inspired by the Kentucky colonels and other honorary title designations, Smith decided to make particularly valued passengers "admirals" of the "Flagship fleet" (AA called its aircraft "Flagships" at the time). [52] [ better source needed ] The list of Admirals included many celebrities, politicians, and other VIPs, as well as more "ordinary" customers who had been particularly loyal to the airline.[ citation needed ]

There was no physical Admirals Club until shortly after the opening of LaGuardia Airport. During the airport's construction, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia had an upper-level lounge set aside for press conferences and business meetings. At one such press conference, he noted that the entire terminal was being offered for lease to airline tenants; after a reporter asked whether the lounge would be leased as well, LaGuardia replied that it would, and a vice president of AA immediately offered to lease the premises. The airline then procured a liquor license and began operating the lounge as the "Admirals Club" in 1939. [53]

The second Admirals Club opened at Washington National Airport. Because it was illegal to sell alcohol in Virginia at the time, the club contained refrigerators for the use of its members, so they could store their liquor at the airport.[ citation needed ] For many years, membership in the Admirals Club (and most other airline lounges) was by the airline's invitation. After a passenger sued for discrimination, [54] the club (and most other airline lounges) switched to a paid membership program.[ citation needed ]

Flagship Lounge

Though affiliated with the Admirals Club and staffed by many of the same employees, the Flagship Lounge is a separate lounge specifically designed for customers flying in First Class and Business Class on international flights and transcontinental domestic flights, as well as AAdvantage Concierge Key, Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Platinum, as well as Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire frequent flyers. As of May 2019, Flagship Lounges are located at five airports: New York–JFK, [55] Chicago-O'Hare, [56] Miami International, [57] Los Angeles, [58] and Dallas/Fort Worth. [59] Flagship Lounges are planned for London-Heathrow and Philadelphia. [55]

Corporate affairs

Ownership and structure

American Airlines, Inc. is publicly traded through its parent company, American Airlines Group Inc., under NASDAQ: AAL Nasdaq :  AAL, with a market capitalization of about $12 billion as of 2019, and is included in the S&P 500 index. [9]

American Eagle is a network of six regional carriers that operate under a codeshare and service agreement with American, operating flights to destinations in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Three of these carriers are independent and three are subsidiaries of American Airlines Group: Envoy Air Inc., Piedmont Airlines, Inc., and PSA Airlines Inc. [9]


American Airlines is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, adjacent to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. [60] The headquarters is located in two office buildings in the CentrePort office complex and these buildings together have about 1,400,000 square feet (130,000 m2) of space. As of 2014 over 4,300 employees work at this complex. [61]

Before it was headquartered in Texas, American Airlines was headquartered at 633 Third Avenue in the Murray Hill area of Midtown Manhattan, New York City. [62] [63] In 1979, American moved its headquarters to a site at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, which affected up to 1,300 jobs. Mayor of New York City Ed Koch described the move as a "betrayal" of New York City. [64] American moved to two leased office buildings in Grand Prairie, Texas. [65] On January 17, 1983, the airline finished moving into a $150 million ($385,000,000 when adjusted for inflation), 550,000-square-foot (51,000 m2) facility in Fort Worth; $147 million (about $377,000,000 when adjusted for inflation) in Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport bonds financed the headquarters. The airline began leasing the facility from the airport, which owns the facility. [65] Following the merger of US Airways and American Airlines, US Airways consolidated the corporate headquarters of the new company in Fort Worth, leaving their current headquarters in Phoenix, AZ, which had also been the headquarters of the airline that brought US Airways out of bankruptcy, America West Airlines.

As of 2015, American Airlines is the corporation with the largest presence in Fort Worth. [66]

In 2015, American announced that it would build a new headquarters in Fort Worth. Groundbreaking began in the spring of 2016 and occupancy completed in September 2019. [67] The airline plans to house 5,000 new workers in the building. [66]

It will be located on a 41-acre (17 ha) property adjacent to the airline's flight academy and conference and training center, west of Texas State Highway 360, 2 miles (3.2 km) [67] west from the current headquarters. The airline will lease a total of 300 acres (120 ha) from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and this area will include the headquarters. [66] Construction of the new headquarters began after the demolition of the Sabre facility, previously on the site. [67]

The airline considered developing a new headquarters in Irving, Texas, on the old Texas Stadium site, before deciding to keep the headquarters in Fort Worth. [66]

Corporate identity

American Airlines' fourth logo, used from 1967 to January 16, 2013 American Airlines logo.svg
American Airlines' fourth logo, used from 1967 to January 16, 2013

In 1931, Goodrich Murphy, an American employee, designed the AA logo as an entry in a logo contest. The eagle in the logo was copied from a Scottish hotel brochure. [68] The logo was redesigned by Massimo Vignelli in 1967. [69] [70] Thirty years later, in 1997, American Airlines was able to make its logo Internet-compatible by buying the domain AA is also American's two-letter IATA airline designator. [71]

On January 17, 2013, American launched a new rebranding and marketing campaign with FutureBrand dubbed, "A New American". This included a new logo, which includes elements of the 1967 logo. [72]

American Airlines faced difficulty obtaining copyright registration for their 2013 logo. On June 3, 2016, American Airlines sought to register it with the United States Copyright Office, [73] but in October of that year, the Copyright Office ruled that the logo was ineligible for copyright protection, as it did not pass the threshold of originality, and was thus in the public domain. [73] American requested that the Copyright Office reconsider, but on January 8, 2018, the Copyright Office affirmed its initial determination. [73] [74] After American Airlines submitted additional materials, the Copyright Office reversed its decision on December 7, 2018, and ruled that the logo contained enough creativity to merit copyright protection. [75]

Aircraft livery

American's early liveries varied widely, but a common livery was adopted in the 1930s, featuring an eagle painted on the fuselage. [76] The eagle became a symbol of the company and inspired the name of American Eagle Airlines. Propeller aircraft featured an international orange lightning bolt running down the length of the fuselage, which was replaced by a simpler orange stripe with the introduction of jets." [77]

A Boeing 737 in the Astrojet livery American Airlines Astrojet N951AA.jpg
A Boeing 737 in the Astrojet livery

In the late 1960s, American commissioned designer Massimo Vignelli to develop a new livery. The original design called for a red, white, and blue stripe on the fuselage, and a simple "AA" logo, without an eagle, on the tail; instead, Vignelli created a highly stylized eagle, which remained the company's logo until January 16, 2013. In 1999, American painted a new Boeing 757 (N679AN) in its 1959 international orange livery. One Boeing 777 and one Boeing 757 were painted in standard livery with a pink ribbon on the sides and the tail, in support of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. One Boeing 757 is painted with a yellow ribbon on the tailfin on the aircraft and the side of the body says "Flagship Freedom". American Eagle, the airline's regional airline has the same special livery on ERJ-145 aircraft.[ citation needed ]

AA "Flagship Freedom" Boeing 757-200, labeled with a "yellow awareness ribbon" symbol, representing support of the United States Armed Forces overseas operations. AA Flagship Freedom.JPG
AA "Flagship Freedom" Boeing 757-200, labeled with a "yellow awareness ribbon" symbol, representing support of the United States Armed Forces overseas operations.

On January 17, 2013, American unveiled a new livery. [78] Before then, American had been the only major U.S. airline to leave most of its aircraft surfaces unpainted. This was because C. R. Smith would not say he liked painted aircraft and refused to use any liveries that involved painting the entire plane. Robert "Bob" Crandall later justified the distinctive natural metal finish by noting that less paint reduced the aircraft's weight, thus saving on fuel costs. [79]

Airbus A319 of US Airways wearing Carolina Panthers livery US Airways A319-112 LAS N717UW.jpg
Airbus A319 of US Airways wearing Carolina Panthers livery
Boeing 737 aircraft N921NN, the final aircraft delivered to American in the polished aluminum livery, retained as a heritage aircraft. N921NN B737-823W American Al YVR 24JUL13 (9362686624).jpg
Boeing 737 aircraft N921NN, the final aircraft delivered to American in the polished aluminum livery, retained as a heritage aircraft.

In January 2013, American launched a new rebranding and marketing campaign dubbed, "The New American". In addition to a new logo, American Airlines introduced a new livery for its fleet. The airline calls the new livery and branding "a clean and modern update". [80] The current design features an abstract American flag on the tail, along with a silver-painted fuselage, as a throw-back to the old livery. The new design was painted by Leading Edge Aviation Services in California. [81] Doug Parker, the incoming CEO indicated that the new livery could be short-lived, stating that "maybe we need to do something slightly different than that ... The only reason this is an issue now is because they just did it right in the middle, which kind of makes it confusing, so that gives us an opportunity, actually, to decide if we are going to do something different because we have so many airplanes to paint". [82] The current logo and livery have had mixed criticism, with Design Shack editor Joshua Johnson writing that they 'boldly and proudly communicate the concepts of American pride and freedom wrapped into a shape that instantly makes you think about an airplane', [83] and author Patrick Smith describing the logo as 'a linoleum knife poking through a shower curtain'. [84] Later in January 2013, Bloomberg asked the designer of the 1968 American Airlines logo (Massimo Vignelli) on his opinion over the rebranding. [85]

In the end, American let their employees decide the new livery's fate. On an internal website for employees, American posted two options, one the new livery and one a modified version of the old livery. All of the American Airlines Group employees (including US Airways and other affiliates) were able to vote. [86] American ultimately decided to keep the new look. Parker announced that American would keep a US Airways and America West heritage aircraft in the fleet, with plans to add a heritage TWA aircraft and a heritage American plane with the old livery. [87] As of September 2019, American has heritage aircraft for Piedmont, PSA, America West, US Airways, Reno Air, TWA, and AirCal in their fleet. [88] They also have two AA branded heritage 737-800 aircraft, an AstroJet N905NN, [89] and the polished aluminum livery used from 1967 to 2013, N921NN. [90]

Worker relations

The main representatives of key groups of employees are:

Concerns and conflicts

Environmental violations

Between October 1993 to July 1998, American Airlines was repeatedly cited for using high-sulfur fuel in motor vehicles at 10 major airports around the country, a violation of the Clean Air Act. [97]

Lifetime AAirpass

Since 1981, as a means of creating revenue in a period of loss-making, American Airlines had offered a lifetime pass of unlimited travel, for the initial cost of $250,000. This entitled the pass holder to fly anywhere in the world. 28 were sold. However, after some time, the airline realised they were making losses on the tickets, with the ticketholders costing them up to $1 million each. Ticketholders were booking large amounts of flights, and some ticketholders flying interstate for lunch or flying to London multiple times a month. AA raised the cost of the lifetime pass to $3 million, and then finally stopped offering it in 2003. AA then used litigation to cancel two of the lifetime offers, saying the passes "had been terminated due to fraudulent activity". [98]

Cabin fume events

Discrimination complaints

On October 24, 2017, the NAACP issued a travel advisory for American Airlines urging African Americans to "exercise caution" when traveling with the airline. The NAACP issued the advisory after four incidents. In one incident, a black woman was moved from First Class to coach while her white traveling companion was allowed to remain in First Class. In another incident, a black man was forced to give up his seats after being confronted by two unruly white passengers. [109] According to the NAACP, while they did receive complaints on other airlines, most of their complaints in the year prior to their advisory were on American Airlines. [110] In July 2018, the NAACP lifted their travel advisory saying that American has made improvements to mitigate discrimination and unsafe treatment of African Americans. [111]

Accidents and incidents

As of March 2019, the airline has had almost sixty aircraft hull losses, beginning with the crash of an American Airways Ford 5-AT-C Trimotor in August 1931. [112] [113] Of these most were propeller driven aircraft, including three Lockheed L-188 Electra turboprop aircraft (of which one, the crash in 1959 of Flight 320, resulted in fatalities). [113] The two accidents with the highest fatalities in both the airline's and U.S. aviation history were Flight 191 in 1979 and Flight 587 in 2001. [114]

Out of the 17 hijackings of American Airlines flights, two aircraft were hijacked and destroyed in the September 11 attacks: Flight 11 crashed into the north facade of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, and Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon; both were bound for LAX from Boston Logan International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport respectively. [115] Other accidents include the Flight 383 engine failure and fire in 2016. There were two training flight accidents in which the crew were killed and six that resulted in no fatalities. [113] Another four jet aircraft have been written off due to incidents while they were parked between flights or while undergoing maintenance. [113]

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Qantas Flights 7 and 8

Qantas Flight 7 (QF7/QFA7) and Qantas Flight 8 (QF8/QFA8) are flights operated by Australian airline Qantas between Sydney Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, which, from 2013 to 2016, were the longest regularly scheduled non-stop commercial flights in the world. Today they are currently the seventh longest regularly scheduled non-stop commercial flights in the world as measured by distance—13,804 kilometres, which is over one third of the distance around Earth. Both flights are operated with Airbus A380 aircraft.

This is the history of United States commercial air transportation company American Airlines.


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Further reading